Advance reader reviews of Stealing Athena by Karen Essex.

Stealing Athena

By Karen Essex

Stealing Athena
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2008,
    464 pages.

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There are currently 17 member reviews
for Stealing Athena
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  • Amy (Wildomar CA)


    Great Look at Women's Lives
    I thought this book was a fascinating look at the lives of two women and how their lives intersected. It took a little bit to get into the respective stories, but my lack of firsthand historical knowledge did not impede my enjoyment of the book. Recommended!
  • jeana (ardmore PA)


    Stealing Athena
    I had been eager to learn more about those famous "Elgin" marbles; however, I found the tone of the book inconsistent and its writing style rather a distraction, beginning on page 7 when Lord Elgin tells the expectant Lady E. to go below decks at the threat of a naval battle, and she responds, "Not a chance, Your Lordship" -- in 1799! Just a few pages later, the author tells us that the lady's pregnancy causes her to feel so sleepy that she nearly nods off during a 19-round cannon salute!

    Nevertheless, Lady Elgin was truly remarkable, and her story should be more widely known. The author's device of relating her history in tandem with that of Aspasia, the consort of Pericles, was a good one. There are many parallels, including the countless gifts and virtues each woman is credited with.

    Upon finishing this book, I followed the author's suggestion to read more abut Lady E, in the recent biography by Susan Nagel.
  • Irene (Ashland OR)


    Stealing Athena
    A fascinating historical novel.

    Although millenniums apart, two smart, self-willed women battle the laws and customs made by men.

    I liked this well-written novel because of the history, the determination of the two women and the focus on the marble carvings of Athens.
  • Susan (Rutledge MO)


    Great material handled badly
    I usually like historical fiction, and am interested in both Classical and British history, so I thought I would enjoy this book, but I *really* didn't. I found it poorly written, with both plot and prose *way* over the top at times. The occasional bodice-ripper tone was annoying, and the many historically inaccurate details were distracting. It’s unfortunate that such great material was dealt with so poorly.
  • Deanna (Port Jefferson NY)


    A Bit of a Disappointment
    I have always been fascinated by the "story" of the Elgin Marbles and how they came to the British Museum. However, the parallel stories of Aspasia {written in 1st person} and Mary Nisbet, Lady Elgin {written in 3rd person} did not engage my interest enough for me to truly enjoy this book. I learned a great deal about Napoleonic times, small pox vaccine and ancient Greece but it was a difficult task.
  • Juliet (Clarendon Hills IL)


    Stealing Athena- Really good historical fiction!
    Stealing Athena does a great job of bringing to life the fascinating story of the controversial acquisition of ancient Greek marbles by Lord Elgin, the ambassador to Turkey, and his beautiful and vivacious wife, Mary. The story is interwoven with a parallel tale of Perikles and his lover, Aspasia, who presided over the marbles' construction.

    Both tales make exciting the stranger-than-fiction realities of these events, with rich detail providing an in-depth glimpse into eras and societies far removed from our own. Not only are these stories inherently interesting, the book is written in a way that makes for a fun read. In addition, it is interesting how both women must cope with their powerless status as women in their societies, leading the reader to question how some of these cultural assumptions about women have persisted into our own time and culture, and how women continue to deal with them today. I enjoyed this book a lot - it was unique, informative, and enjoyable, and it will stay with me for a long while.
  • Mary Ann (Louisville KY)


    Women in History
    I enjoyed this book on two levels. The first, for the parallel stories of two men trying to create history, and the second for two women who are taken along for the ride.
    This story has many discussion points for women's roles, men's roles and how they play out throughout history. I think book clubs would like it.
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